Look toward the future

Published 12:05 pm Saturday, November 14, 2009

A little more than three weeks ago, International Paper Co. announced that it would close the Franklin Mill.

If one were to equate the mill’s closure alongside the informal “Seven Stages of Grief,” we’re probably just passing through the third level right now, that of “Anger and Bargaining.”

Bargaining has taken several forms, including a letter from our elected officials asking IP to explain its reasoning for closing the mill, and a local petition being circulated urging IP to be a “good corporate citizen.”

It was worth a shot to try to convince IP to change its mind.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like this will happen. We must accept the reality that the mill will be closing in the spring.

It is time now to look forward.

Our community has many reasons to be optimistic about the future. Among them, the improving national economy, our proximity to the Port of Virginia and access to world markets, our hard-working and dedicated work force, and — most important of all — our steely resolve, never-say-die attitude.

IP could provide another reason to be optimistic. If the company leaves valuable saw mill and log handling equipment on-site, that could open the door to a myriad of future uses: production of biomass energy, wood pellets, cellulosic ethanol — or even a combination of these.

We can’t change the past. Our leadership can, however, start having a serious discussion about the future. This community deserves it.